Chen-ou Liu’s First Firefly

first firefly
among the stars …
a child’s wish

Chen-ou Liu (Canada)

When I was a child, I used to watch fireflies, considering them as a lucky charm. This haiku reminds me of my childhood memories associated with fireflies and I can relate to it.

A “first firefly” is a hope in the darkness that we want to have in our lives. The poet beautifully put two contrasting realities together.

One is stars we cannot touch and the other one is a firefly that we can touch and personally feel its existence. The firefly is more like a dream that comes true—a kind of wish that is fulfilled by feeling the existence of a firefly’s light that resembles starlight. One can also see the limitation of certain realities that are beyond our understanding and access but possible through imagination and adopting alternative approaches. A child enjoys his or her access to the stars through a firefly that takes him close to his imagination and fulfills the wish of touching stars.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

It is an ordinary experience but extraordinary at the same time. Seeing the flash of light from a firefly against a starry night sky is enchanting and mystical to witness. It makes us appreciate nature’s majesty more.

Usually, fireflies come out strong in the summer when they are looking for mates. So, the first firefly could be an indication of summer. The child does not know about fireflies’ mating seasons and his or her wish is based on one of beauty and wonder. It makes for an interesting dichotomy, though, of innocence and experience. However, the last line could be interpreted in two ways: it is the child’s wish to see a firefly with the stars, or that a firefly among stars is like a child’s wish.

As Hifsa mentioned, this haiku merges the earthly and the cosmic, each with its own light. Though the distance is substantially different, the circumference of light might be about the same from the view of a person. In this way, a star’s twinkle might as well be a star’s brilliance, and vice versa.

At a technical glance, we have alliteration in the first line that adds a musical sense to the haiku. The structure is standard and the ellipsis as a kireji works well. It gives a chance for the reader to slow down and imagine the wonderful scene. Each line comprises four syllables, which makes it compact like most well-written haiku (though the kireji would be counted in Japanese).

A haiku powered by enchanting imagery that gives readers more than something to imagine: it prompts us to see the connection between the mundane and the cosmic, and to appreciate the wonder of a child.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

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Maria Chiara Miduri’s Wings

a crow feeds
tiny wings
while the bough floats

Maria Chiara Miduri (Italy)
Wales Haiku Journal, Spring Issue, 2019

Haiku about crows always brings mystery to me. I start relating them to certain deep realities of life. A crow can symbolize intelligence, flexibility, and destiny in certain cultures, whilst bad luck and death in others. For me, a crow is a symbol of wisdom and survival that keeps on knocking on the doors of our mind and heart to awaken and understand the depth of life.

The tiny wings, as I understand, is the beginning of new life that needs energy and enthusiasm to keep going and to face the harsh realities of life.

In terms of the bough that floats on the water, I think it signifies the survival of the fittest in the tidal waves of life, but it is the crow that leads us to overcome our weaknesses and to handle it with strength and wisdom.

This haiku is the combination of nature and nurture where wisdom, realities, and trials are beautifully described with the help of the elements of nature.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The first thing that struck me about this haiku is that it is written essentially as one part. Haiku often do not work well as one part, but there is a whole history of masterful haiku that do. In Japanese, these type of haiku are called “ichibutsu jitate” (物仕立て).

Because the imagery is so stark, the poem is carried by it and the resonance is strong. The care the mother crow is giving her chicks (“tiny wings”), while the wind or water tosses the bough that they are on, is extraordinary. It is a lesson in focus and concern. It also lends to the image of life’s precariousness and that at any moment, something can go wrong. But in the face of this, the mother crow supplies nourishment to her chicks.

Despite the haiku being one phrase, the line breaks allow readers to take in the image well. Also, the sound of the poem is rich with the letters w and o. I would say the “w” sounds supply a sense of lightness that is inherent in the imagery, whereas the “o” sounds slow down the scene for us and reflects being in awe of the moment that is captured in the haiku.

Overall, with a unique structure, stark imagery, and a fine sense of sound, this haiku conveys showing care through the obstacles of our lives.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

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– Painting by Koson Ohara